Wall Street Journal


In a weak economy where jobs are few, job hunters are trying harder than ever to distinguish themselves from a large pool of applicants. Online résumé sites claim to help people stand out by helping them create a Web site of their professional experience.

The services let users present a portfolio of work and a detailed job history, including uploaded images — much more than a traditional paper résumé would allow. The sites can be tricked out with different fonts, colors and templates. Some services charge a fee while others are free, but all give you a Web link of your portfolio that you can email to recruiters.

We created our own résumé Web sites using four services — Doodlebit, WebResumePlace, InteractiveResumeServices and VisualCV — and tested them for ease of use and presentation. We have no experience with formatting html, a Web programming language, but these companies say their products are simple enough for computer novices. We sent our completed sites to Tory Johnson, a career coach and founder and chief executive of New York recruiting company Women for Hire, who commented on the sites’ professional presentation.

Doodlebit’s DoodleKit.com offers five pricing options ranging from free to $69 a month, including online hosting of your Web site, and each level comes with more features. With the $14.99 a month Simple Plan, users can register their sites and upload images and photos in bulk, an option not available in the free plan. Also, phone support is available only on the $69-a-month Premium Plan. We opted for the free plan; when we emailed questions as we were setting up our site, it took four days to get a response — and only after we followed up. A drawback of the free option is the pesky ads that blare on each page. And we had formatting issues: When we copied our job experience from our Word document résumé and pasted it onto the site, the section was in one long paragraph. Company founder Heath Huffman says we needed to download software in order to properly format it.

On the plus side, creating our Web résumé was simple. There are at least a dozen options for fonts, layouts and colors. There also are no preset sections such as Work Experience or Objectives, so users can create whatever headings they want. Though there isn’t a place for a professional headshot, you can upload images and create slideshows.

Ms. Johnson wasn’t impressed with the end product. She says the formatting issues and the ads make for a completely unprofessional appearance and that nobody would take the time to read through the site.

Next, we tried WebResumePlace, which costs $25 a year and $2 a month after that. Although it wasn’t complicated to set up a site, it’s cumbersome to edit. For starters, each section of the Web-site template is filled with sample text that users need to manually delete. In the Job Experience area, there are chunks of pre-existing text. Company founder Kevin Smith says the text is meant to be a guideline for users.

Another hindrance: We pasted links to our work, in this case, articles we’ve written, and instead of presenting them as cleaned-up links, the site displayed them in their super-long versions, which looked messy. On the plus side, you’re able to download your résumé into a PDF, doc or txt format, and phone customer service is available.

Again, Ms. Johnson wasn’t won over. Across the top of the résumé, there is a mandatory stock photo of professionals in a meeting, which she thought was tacky. She says she "stopped paying attention after that." And she felt the layout was mediocre. The company has since designed two templates that don’t have this photo header.

At InteractiveResumeServices, users can set up one résumé site for $25 a year, or pay $40 to design two. Payment is only through a PayPal account or by mailing a check, but setting up our Web site was simple. We could cut and paste from our Word-document résumé and also had the option of making any part of our site active or inactive, such as not displaying the Skills section to employers. And we were able to easily paste links of our article clips. Phone help is available.

The presentation, however, left something to be desired. We could choose different templates, but they differed only by color. There are also no options to change fonts. Ms. Johnson liked how users can print a PDF version of their résumé but also found the technology to be basic and flat. "This site offers no clear advantage over a traditional résumé or single Web page," she says. Company founder Jeannie Kintner said that according to her research, recruiters want simply presented résumés without any frills such as different fonts. But she added that the site is undergoing a facelift in the next several months that will amp up the technology.

We were impressed by how easy VisualCV, a free service, was to use and by the wide array of colors, fonts and backgrounds. You can choose to have your information automatically transferred from your LinkedIn account, and like the other services, you can cut and paste from your résumé. We really liked the clean presentation of Web links to our work and how we could download the site into a PDF version. It’s also possible to upload images, video, audio and almost any document. Though phone customer service is available, we didn’t need it because the site was easy to set up.

Ms. Johnson said VisualCV.com was far and away the best of the four sites. "It has a clean, clear, crisp layout," she says. From an employer’s perspective, she felt it is easy to follow, and a visitor isn’t left wondering what to click.

So while technology is wonderful in many respects, in the case of Web résumés, we think tradition trumps fancy Web sites. Though the sites aren’t difficult to design, they won’t necessarily give you a leg up over other job candidates and might even be a hindrance if not properly executed, as Ms. Johnson pointed out. When it comes to a résumé, says Ms. Johnson, substance trumps style, so fancy Web sites aren’t a substitute for knowledge, skills and abilities. In this challenging environment, she adds, a Web-based version, such as one from VisualCV.com, and a thorough LinkedIn profile, is a smart complement to a paper résumé.


Doodlebit LLC (doodlekit.com)
Options ranging from free to $69 a month
Setting up this site took the longest due to formatting issues. Instead of properly spacing our job experience, the text was in one long paragraph. Phone support is available for the $69 a month plan.
We liked how we could create our own headings and number of pages but didn’t like the ads on the pages with the free service. We emailed questions we had as we were setting up our site and got a response four days later, after we followed up. Mr. Huffman said that this was an anomaly and the company strives to answer questions via email within 24 hours.

Web Resume Place LLC (webresumeplace.com)
$25 annually, $2 for every month of online hosting after a year
Creating the site was easy, but time-consuming since users need to manually delete pre-existing text in each section. Phone help is available.
The presentation of the links in a super-long format was clunky, and Ms. Johnson thought the mandatory stock photo across the top looked unprofessional. The company has since started offering two templates without this header.

InteractiveResumeServices LLC (interactiveresumeservices.com)
$25 annually for one résumé; $40 for two résumés
Designing the site was straightforward. Template choices vary only by color. And there are no options to change fonts. Payment is only through PayPal or by check. Phone help is available.
The presentation was unimpressive and Ms. Johnson said the technology was "awfully flat." Founder Jeanne Kintner says the company is looking to roll out new technology within two months that will make the site much more technologically sophisticated.

VisualCV Inc. (visualcv.com)
Following the directions was simple. There are numerous font, color and background choices and plenty of creative freedom. Phone customer service is available.
We felt that this was by far the most visually appealing site with a clear, sharp layout. Ms. Johnson agreed, and also thought that recruiters would find it the easiest to navigate.